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Hampton drama club readies to perform 'Fahrenheit 451'

| Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, 9:01 p.m.
Junior Gianna Mazzei paints sets for Hampton High School’s fall play production of Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451.” Mazzei is the scenic director and head of lighting for the play.
Rachel Farkas | Trib Total Media
Junior Gianna Mazzei paints sets for Hampton High School’s fall play production of Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451.” Mazzei is the scenic director and head of lighting for the play.
Senior Rob Clifford, left, junior Alex Wood, freshman James Omecene and junior Noah Hilton rehearse for Hampton High School’s fall play production of Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451.”
Rachel Farkas | Trib Total Media
Senior Rob Clifford, left, junior Alex Wood, freshman James Omecene and junior Noah Hilton rehearse for Hampton High School’s fall play production of Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451.”
Senior Rob Clifford, left, and junior Noah Hilton rehearse for Hampton High School’s fall play production of Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451.” Clifford will make his stage debut playing lead character Montag, and Hilton plays Captain Beatty.
Rachel Farkas | Trib Total Media
Senior Rob Clifford, left, and junior Noah Hilton rehearse for Hampton High School’s fall play production of Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451.” Clifford will make his stage debut playing lead character Montag, and Hilton plays Captain Beatty.
Junior Gianna Mazzei paints sets for Hampton High School’s fall play production of Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451.” Mazzei is the scenic director and head of lighting for the play.
Rachel Farkas | Trib Total Media
Junior Gianna Mazzei paints sets for Hampton High School’s fall play production of Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451.” Mazzei is the scenic director and head of lighting for the play.

When the lights go up for Hampton High School drama club's fall play, it will be senior Rob Clifford's first time on stage, but he's not concerned.

“I love public speaking, so I think I'll be fine,” he said.

Clifford will play lead character Montag in the production of Ray Bradbury's “Fahrenheit 451” which will run Nov. 13 to 15.

This year's play is a departure from the comedic shows of the past few years, said student director and senior Tori Trimm.

“It's nice to tackle something that's not all giggles and laughs,” Trimm said.

She and fellow student director Zoe Sawyer, a senior, chose “Fahrenheit 451” for its serious themes that still apply to life today. Bradbury wrote the script and 1953 novel of the same name, so the themes and major details remain the same, Trimm said.

The dystopian play takes audiences to a futuristic American city where books are outlawed and firefighters' main duty is to burn books and punish those who read them. Some major themes of the story include freedom of speech, sacrifice, love, self-identity and loss of innocence, Trimm said.

There are 21 cast members and about 30 students in the stage crew, directed by stage managers Michelle Walker and Justin Nichol, this year.

Sawyer said many cast members are new to the stage either as freshman or first-time upperclassmen, like Clifford. Starting from scratch actually has been a blessing because they can mold the actors to fit the show and get to see the raw, natural talent before it's refined, she said.

“There are very deep, mature aspects of the novel,” Sawyer said. “So we sit down with them and they work through it… and they grow through the process.”

Clifford said he's always been a fan and follower of Hampton's theater productions, but only decided to jump in during his senior year, saying it was “all or nothing.” “Fahrenheit 451” follows firefighter Montag as he develops from a government lackey to an open-minded intellectual through reading books.

“You can really see with each scene the change in him, see him start thinking on his own,” Clifford said.

For his first time on stage, Clifford said it hasn't been difficult to get into character.

“I just put myself in his shoes. It helps that I can relate it to my life,” he said.

On the other hand, junior Noah Hilton, who plays Montag's boss, Captain Beatty, has been on stage since the fifth grade when he began acting with theater school Act One. The best part of each production is opening night and the camaraderie built among cast members through long weeks of rehearsals, he said.

“Once it all comes together, opening night is really exhilarating,” Hilton said. “And coming here after school every day, we've made this little family.”

Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or rfarkas@tribweb.com.

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